Sacred Earth: An Indigenous Perspective that will change Our Relationship to the Modern World

By Courtney Elmes



Indigenous perspectives have held the balance for eons: the recognition that we are extensions of the Earth; that plants and animals are our relatives; that we are inherently connected to nature. 



In the beginning days of our Sacred Earth 200 HR Yoga Teacher Training in Guatemala (the first teacher training I ever took part in with Awakened Spirit Yoga), we were introduced to a Mayan Shaman who had travelled a fair way to graciously be present with us – conducting a fire ceremony to open and bless our shared space. It was a rigorous, thorough and attentive process… and something quite beyond what I was familiar with – never having experienced a fire in the middle of the daytime before, let alone a ceremonial one. 



During this sacred rite of passage on Mayan land, we were smudged with herbs to clear and clean our energy, given candles to place upon the fire (each colour had a different spiritual significance), and told to speak our names into the flames whilst sprinkling an offering, amongst many other things. Petals and music were incorporated throughout. At one point, he brought chocolate out for each of us to have a piece, saying, “because life should be sweet” and chuckling to himself as he enjoyed some too. 


This could not have been a more blessed welcome to the land, the culture and the people of Guatemala. The amount of intention behind this ritual, with each aspect of symbolism given more meaning by being lovingly done, was honestly an honour to witness and be a part of. 

The experience invited me to reflect on the way of things done these days with a Westernised mindset – so much rushing, so much grabbing energy. A capitalistic, consumerist, materialistic and very often mind-numbing culture. One that sees nature as a commodity, merely a resource to be abused and taken advantage of, neglected. We know in our hearts this not to be true.


At Shad’s (the permaculture teacher for Sacred Earth YTT) farm, I also saw how everything was left to flourish on its own terms, with minimal human intervention – only enough to help it out where it needs be. It was beautiful, raw and real. This is true land stewardship, I thought. Not that intense urgency many humans seem to have to control what is, irrevocably,  unrestrainable nature. 

The topic of respecting Indigeneity has grown in recent years, and rightly so – the past horrors cannot be erased, but we can change our behaviours towards one of decolonization, recognising how much these ancient teachings and traditions have to guide us back home to the Earth, living in harmony where we belong. We can move towards justice for the Earth and All Beings through movements such as Land Back and the Rights of Nature. To acknowledge that one may be living on stolen land by stating the territory as unceded is a very good starting point. 


From my own perspective, Indigenous communities – having stayed close and true to their roots, against all odds and hardships placed upon them – have remained resilient to this day. Those of us less in touch with our own origins, I believe, would do well to sit back a moment, and listen to what these wayshowers have to share. At the same time, understanding that they do not hold the responsibility to fix us or anything else; we must all be willing to do the work ourselves. 


Learn more about the importance of these topics with these resources: | Our home on native land

LANDBACK – Building lasting Indigenous sovereignty.

What are the Rights of Nature? – Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (

2022 Ripple Week Series | Session 5: Untangling Colonization – Womens Earth Alliance



Courtney Elmes 
Courtney Elmes, aka ‘Coco’, is a dedicated Sacred Earth Activist – a mantle she took up and something that particularly awoke within her after taking Awakened Spirit Yoga’s Sacred Earth 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training back in the Mayan lands of Guatemala in 2018. She now works in creative climate communications, with a focus on community, artistic storytelling and emotional resiliency. Embracing the ancient tradition of yoga as a way of life, visiting the birthplace of the wisdom showed her how this was done well. She especially enjoys developing her practice of herbalism and flow arts. Living from (and always coming back to) a place of loving kindness, she is most at home when surrounded by lush forestry.  Find her on instagram @liberationoflove.
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